Monday, December 12, 2011

According to Your Word - Monday of the Third Week of Advent

(Image of the Advent wreath is from ImageVine/courtesy of All rights reserved.)

(Num 24:2-7, 15-17; Mt 21:23-27)

“The utterance of one whose eye is true. . .
Of one who sees what the almighty sees,
enraptured and with eyes unveiled.”
(Num 24:3, 4)

“When [my grandmother] died, it was as suddenly as her Christmas cactus: here today, gone tomorrow. She left behind her letters and her husband of sixty-two years. Her husband, my grandfather Daddy Howard, an elegant rascal with a gambler’s smile and a loser’s luck, had made and lost several fortunes, the last of them permanently. He drank them away, gambled them away, tossed them away the way she threw crumbs to her birds. He squandered life’s big chances the way she savored the small ones. […] ‘I don’t know how she stands it,’ my mother would say, furious with my grandfather for some new misadventure. She meant she didn’t know why.

The truth is, we all knew how she stood it. She stood it by standing knee-deep in the flow of life and paying close attention.

My grandmother was gone before I learned the lesson her letters were teaching: survival lies in sanity, and sanity lies in paying attention. Yes, her letters said, Dad’s cough is getting worse, we have lost the house, there is no money and no work, but the tiger lilies are blooming, the lizard has found that spot in the sun, the roses are holding despite the heat.

My grandmother knew what a painful life had taught her: success or failure, the truth of a life really has little to do with its quality. The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.”

– Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1992), 52-53.